Jesus tells His disciples they must be holier than the religious leaders of the time (Mt 5:20). Then the first thing Jesus focuses on is anger. The old covenant forbade the expression of anger through murder or violence, but Jesus expects even more. He warns: "What I say to you is: everyone who grows angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; any man who uses abusive language toward his brother shall be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and if he holds him in contempt he risks the fires of Gehenna" (Mt 5:22). We cannot even go to the altar and pray if we're aware of someone who is angry with us (Mt 5:24). We must "lose no time" and settle with our opponent immediately (Mt 5:25).
Jesus seems to be over-reacting to the problem of anger. The truth is that we are under-reacting. Anger is often the open door through which the devil enters. Therefore, "the sun must not go down on your wrath; do not give the devil a chance to work on you" (Eph 4:26-27). Anger is frequently the root of bitterness, unforgiveness, violence, and a whole host of evils. Anger was even the root of the opposition to Jesus and resulted in His crucifixion (Jn 7:23). We must immediately take every angry thought or feeling to Jesus. He alone can save us from anger.
Prayer: Father, may I consider it an emergency when I am tempted to become angry.
Promise: "All of us, gazing on the Lord's glory with unveiled faces, are being transformed from glory to glory into His very image by the Lord Who is the Spirit." —2 Cor 3:18
Praise: Jesus healed three-year-old Bart's broken collarbone when his parents prayed over him.
Nihil obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, November 28, 1998
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, December 1, 1998
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